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Influenza vaccine may reduce the risk of COVID




After receiving the flu vaccine, an elderly woman holds her arm and a man waits in the next chair

People in Santiago are vaccinated against the flu.Credits: Ivan Alvarado / Reuters / Alamy

Influenza vaccines have amazing health benefits. It may also prevent COVID-19, especially in the most severe forms.1..

A survey of more than 30,000 health workers in Qatar found that people vaccinated against the flu were almost 90% less likely to develop the disease. Severe COVID-19 Over the next few months compared to those who have not recently been vaccinated against the flu.

Survey conducted in the second half of 2020 Deployment of COVID-19 vaccineIs consistent with previous studies suggesting that strengthening the immune system with influenza vaccines and other jabs may help the body dodge the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. ..

Benefits of collateral

During the early months of the pandemic (although the COVID-19 vaccine was still under development), researchers were keenly interested in the potential of existing vaccines to provide some protection against SARS-CoV-2. rice field. However, people seeking vaccination against diseases other than COVID-19 may make other options to reduce the risk of being infected with SARS-CoV-2, so collect strong evidence of such effects. Is difficult.

To minimize the impact of this “healthy user impact,” a team led by Rice Jamal Abradad, an infectious disease epidemiologist in Doha’s Weil Cornell Medicine-Qatar, has 30,774 medical professionals in the country. I analyzed the health records of the person. Perhaps the variability in health-related behaviors of such workers is less than in the general population, reducing prejudice, but perhaps unavoidable, says Abu Raddad.

Researchers tracked 518 workers tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 and matched them with more than 2000 study participants tested negative for the virus. People who get the flu vaccine that season are 30% less likely to test positive for SARS-CoV-2 and are more likely to develop severe COVID-19 than those who did not. Was 89% lower (the number of severe cases was smaller in both groups). This survey was posted on the preprint server on May 10th.

Günther Fink, an epidemiologist at the University of Basel in Switzerland, says Qatar’s analysis reduces the likelihood that other studies that revealed the same association were fluke.His team reported that the influenza vaccine was associated with a reduced risk of death in hospitalized COVID-19 patients in Brazil.2..

“This is important evidence,” says Mihai Netea, an infectious disease specialist at Radboud University Medical Center in Nijmegen, the Netherlands. He adds that the observation that influenza vaccines are associated not only with a reduction in SARS-CoV-2 infection, but also with a reduction in the severity of the disease, strongly suggests that the defense is genuine.

Time limit

It is unknown how long this protection will last. Among those who were vaccinated against influenza in a Qatar study and later infected with COVID-19, Abu Raddad’s team found that SARS-CoV-2 infection occurred on average about 6 weeks after vaccination. Was recorded. “I don’t think this effect will last long,” he says. Netea estimates that the benefits will last from 6 months to 2 years.

It is not entirely clear why the influenza vaccine, which consists of the killed influenza virus, also protects against COVID-19. Vaccines train the immune system to recognize specific pathogens, but Netea, who found signs of such a reaction in the flu vaccine recipient, says it also enhances widespread antiviral protection.3..

The Netea team is also working to more accurately quantify the benefits of vaccines against influenza and other COVID-19. To completely eliminate the effects on healthy users, his team conducted a randomized placebo-controlled trial in Brazil to test whether the rubella vaccine could protect against COVID-19 with influenza and measles-mumps. have started.

Knowing that vaccines for influenza and other illnesses can provide protection against COVID-19, even for a partial and limited period of time, before a vaccine for that illness is developed, by a future pandemic Netea argues that it may be possible to limit the damage caused. “If something goes first, it can save millions of lives.”




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